Am I Crazy for Wanting to Help and for Wanting to Get My Wife Back?

Photo by SuperFantastic - - For illustration only

Reader’s Question

I am a recently divorced 35-year-old male with 2 children, ages 6 and 7. I moved next door to my ex’s family right after we broke up and she quit communicating with me. We were not yet divorced, and I compensated for the lack of contact with her by playing on the computer and not giving her any attention. During this time she opened a credit card and ran up a lot of debt and didn’t tell me until after our divorce 5 years later.

During the last 5 years of our marriage my ex had an ongoing online relationship with a married man. This lasted for over 2 years before I caught on to it. Once I found out, I wanted to leave but knew I had to give our relationship another shot, so I told her I would forgive but not forget; I insisted on access to her cell phone records, bank accounts, and email to regain trust.

My ex changed all her passwords for email, phone and bank so that I could not see them anymore, stopped accepting my phone calls and online chats. I was convinced she was seeing someone else again. Then our divorce was filed and finalized for over 6 months. Still, she told me that she still cared and still wanted things to work. I believed this for a while, but then she left again to go overseas for 6 more months and asked me to stay in her house and keep the kids, which I gratefully did, thinking things might work out. What I did not know was that she was meeting a guy over there, which she says is nothing sexual, but she left two days early to stay in a hotel with him before she arrived at an other remote part of the world with him.

My ex was constantly drinking hard alcohol while we were waiting on the divorce to be final, and I am fairly certain she was with several men. My fear is that I have caused her to be the very unhealthy way she is because I did not give her enough attention. Am I completely insane for wanting to stay and help her?

Psychologist’s Reply

No, you are not completely insane. But you are not thinking rationally, and you have made an erroneous determination about who needs “help” at this moment. Your kind of unhealthy psychological dependency is just the kind of thing for which therapy was designed. And it’s you who needs to get the help. Your ex is nowhere near the point where she might be motivated to ask for help or to potentially benefit from it. You have your hands full of your own problems, and it’s really unhealthy and way too distracting for you to take ownership of hers. So do yourself a real favor (as well as a favor for your children, who need a healthy parent) and visit a counselor without delay.

Please read our Important Disclaimer.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by on and last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

Ask the Psychologist provides direct access to qualified clinical psychologists ready to answer your questions. It is overseen by the same international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals — with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe — that delivers, providing peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

Copyright © 2021.